Marina Satti is all about budding talent. She’s got the looks, the smile and the voice to make it for herself here or anywhere by the looks of things. And she’s a young Greek who instead of opting to stay in the US and at Berklee, where she would definitely have a much better (and fairer) chance at life and a career, came back to her homeland, Greece, to test her mettle.
Marina is in her 30s. She has in that time completed classical music studies at the Greek conservatory, theater and dance coaching, and has furthered her musical training at the Berklee College of Music on scholarship.
Marina came into the spotlight after she delivered an enthralling rendering of a traditional Asia Minor standard with her musical buddies whom she calls “& Friends” which she uploaded on YouTube, catapulting her into stardom.
But what’s so excitingly unique about Ms Satti isn’t the mesmerising interpretation of the exquisite song but the sheer flexibility of her vocal talents. She seems to fit into all styles and genres: whether it’s a rock opera, a pop tune, a traditional Greek standard or even opera.
A moving example is her delivery here of the waltz “Je veux vivre” from Charles Gounod’s five-act opera Roméo et Juliette. Satti was just 23 then and yet the colour and depth of her interpretation leaves one spellbound and wondering… wondering where it all comes from and if it can be “exploited” to the fullest in crisis-hit Greece.
Marina grew up in a cultural and musical melange: her mother is from Greece and her father from Sudan. She began her musical training in fourth grade while the diverse sounds of Cretan songs, Fairuz, Oum Kalthoum and Etta James played in the background. Enter Bjork, James Blake and Nirvana among many others and you’ve got Marina Satti.
Like any true artist, she experimented with all musical genres and going through personal phases of understanding reached her current repertoire or rather style. In a recent interview to Makis Milatos in Athens Voice, she says of her path: “Music helps me grow as a person, but this effort to improve myself also helps my music.“ And she’s got the training to do so… Bobby McFerrin was among those who taught her how to improvise a cappella.
“Tha Spaso Koupes” is a traditional Asia Minor “maqam” (standard) which came to acclaim in 1928 when Marika Papagika performed it.
Some 88 years later, Marina Satti & Friends improvise on the same standard. The result is purely intoxicating. Our wish is for the gifted Marina Satti and her talented friends to find the determination to go above and beyond Greece’s harsh and limited “artistic” reality. She reminds me of Alexia, another endowed singer who now lives and creates in New York.
For the listener starved of good sound… enjoy!